UBS boss looks to streamline tech function in digital push

UBS chief executive Ralph Hamers is mulling a streamlining of the bank’s IT function, as he says the bank can do “more effective technology work” with fewer people.

Putting digitisation at the heart of his strategy, the Swiss bank’s new boss said that UBS is looking to overhaul its IT culture to attract more core technology talent.

Hamers told a Bank of America conference on 23 September that UBS wants to build an “engineering culture” within its technology function.

“You will see that the whole hierarchy will be driven by engineers, rather than also a lot of managers and project managers, which is a way of doing it, but that’s not the chosen way for us,” he said. “We actually think that we can do with less people more and more effective technology work.”

Greater digitisation, together with keeping a close grip on costs, was one of the key priorities outlined by the chief executive in his vision for the bank during in its first quarter results.

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Hamers has replaced the chief operating officer position at UBS with a chief digital and information officer, promoting Mike Dargan into the role in April and bumping him on to the 11-person group executive board.

In April, Hamers used the examples of Netflix and Spotify as models for tech investment, where customers should feel a similar need to regularly interact with the bank.

However, Hamers said at the Bank of America conference that he had introduced a quarterly review of technology investments to make sure the “money is being spent wisely” and offered good returns.

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“Already in the first year here I’ve stopped some large projects there as well, where we felt we’re not going to make these returns that we that we need to make, therefore it’s a waste of money to go there,” Hamers said.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Paul Clarke

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